In the days of his flesh, Jesus was asked by his closest associates and friends, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Matthew records his answer, which may have turned into a riddle. Jesus did not answer his followers in riddle but told them plainly that the destruction of the temple, the sign of his presence in heaven and the close of that age would be with certain signs, global events, and terrible wars. His return for them would not be hidden but visible to any who cared to consider the fulfillment of prophetic utterances and his own words.
Just after his ascension to heaven Jesus’ friend, Peter, preached aloud that his death and their spiritually endowed appearance was the fulfillment of the Prophet Joel’s words. “This is that spoken by Joel.” “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’” The day Peter spoke was one of those Last Days. Those who heard him were living in the last days, the end time, the time of the end, the end of the age. By any other name, this time was fulfilled and all the prophecies of God were shortly to be completed, i.e., fulfilled.
The writer to the Hebrews said as much when he spoke of the many and various ways God had spoken to the Jewish people “… but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Hebrews 1:2. Jesus was sent to bring the final words of God to these people. He came to fulfill the single and final sacrifice for the people. By his sacrifice, he would cleanse once for all time those who believed. Otherwise “… he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26. Those days were going to be the last days to hear the voice of God or to see the miraculous manifestation of His will. To the Jews, those were the last days appointed by Moses, and Daniel, Zechariah, Malachi and Isaiah repeated the prophetic utterances yet to be fulfilled. Jesus was the fulfillment of everything Jewish and the final say so of God to men.
When will these things be?
These were the people upon whom the end of the ages had come. The things that happened to their ancestors were warnings to them to live rightly and wait for the end. The things that happened before, “…happened to them as an example, but they were written down for [this generation’s] instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. No other generation could claim the end of that age save for those who experienced the wars and earthquakes that led up to the destruction of their temple. Paul forewarned his disciples saying, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” 2 Timothy 3:1. Peter wrote to those dispersed around the world saying, “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 2 Peter 1:20. Jesus had been revealed to the Jew and the Gentile. These were the last days when salvation was possible for the chosen people. After these days the age would close to usher in a new age. The times would be terrible preceding the new and everlasting age. Peter warned them saying, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days’ scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” 2 Peter 3:3. They were to prepare to meet God for “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” 1 Peter 4:7. It was the same message given the Jews by Jude who reminded them of the choice words of the apostles, “”They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.”” Jude 1:18
When will these things be?
The Lord’s own brother, James, warned the rich to use their wealth to gain friends and to prepare for judgment else wise, “Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” James 5:3. That hoard would testify against them that they loved mammon more than God and trusted in wealth rather than the Creator. Judgment would find them out and their end was predictable. Rather, James appealed to them to “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” JAMES 5:7. With the day drawing near, all things would culminate in the final judgment. “Since all these things were to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought they have been in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens would be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements melt with fire?” 2 Peter 3:10-12.
When will these things be?
No apostolic letter was written that summarizes that generation’s pathological lust for power, money, and deceit. Josephus, a historian of the time, was aware of the political and social crimes of the nation and wrote of the wars of the Jews that culminated in the Nations’ total destruction by Rome. Only the Revelation of Jesus to John portrays the earthly events that ushered in the New and Everlasting Kingdom of God, but it was done in cryptic scenes of war and catastrophe. The entire book was written to disciples of Christ using extreme imagery; quite foreign to the Gentile but very familiar to the Jews who knew Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and the minor prophets who spoke of the coming judgment of God on his people. The events recorded in the Revelation captured that generation’s failures as well as the remnant of Jews who accepted Christ as the gift of God. These final events were to take place in their day, not ours. Listen to the Lord and his angels as they speak of that end time:
3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelations 1
Revelation 22:10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.
Revelation 1:1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Revelation 2:16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Revelation 11:14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.
Revelation 22:6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”
Revelation 22:7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
Revelation 22:12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.
Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Today, the followers of Christ can stop waiting on his return. He came in the glory of his Father, with judgment and wrath to save those who anxiously waited. The age closed with the destruction and complete annihilation of the Nation and its capital city, Jerusalem. The new age has been upon us for 2000 years. It is a spiritual age, in an unseen kingdom. And “Blessed are those who wash their robes so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:14-15. So it is today that the holy people of God dwell in peace and in holiness, living in this world but citizens of another world. Outside the New Covenant of God are the dogs and fornicators, the murderers and idolaters. It will be this way forever and ever while the gates of the city ever stay open to welcome the sinner into the house of God. There, those who believe, those who obey may drink from the crystal fountain, eat of the tree of life and live where nothing is cursed anymore. They are the servants of God and serve him only. God lights up their life and guides their path until they are called to ascend on high and take their place among those called by his name.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants[c] will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5.
When will these things be?
Stop waiting to be saved and enter the gates of a kingdom not of this world. Amen.